Communication Strategies

Strategies for Listeners with Hearing Loss

  • Be certain that the speaker is facing you. 
  • Turn down or off any extraneous devices, such as the TV, to insure the best possible listening environment.
  • Situate yourself in a well-lit area; focal lights should be on the speaker and not directed toward you.
  • Be assertive when in a group – let those gathered know that you would appreciate if they take turns speaking as opposed to multiple conversations.
  • If you are having difficulty understanding something, ask the speaker to rephrase the message as repeating verbatim does not always improve understanding.
  • If you have considerable difficulty understanding speech, consider asking the speaker to announce the topic of discussion especially if it is changed. 
  • Using written communication via pen or electronic device may be the only means of effective communication with some speakers.
  • Do not bluff!  Others pick up on this and may become frustrated, annoyed or angered by your response especially if it is inappropriate to the conversation. 
  • Be assertive!  Tell your spouse, friends, family and coworkers how best to talk to you.  For some it may be asking for repetition, for others it may be asking to rephrase.  You can always check to see if you are following correctly by asking “Did you say…”.
  • If you rely heavily on visual cues (i.e. lip reading) you may become fatigued over time.  Meetings can be especially taxing so arrange to take breaks at regular intervals.

For Speakers

  • Be certain you get the person’s attention before you speak.  This may include a gentle tap on the shoulder. 
  • Be sure to face the person you are speaking to with any focal light facing you not the listener.
  • Speak in a normal tone – don’t shout.
  • Avoid background noise by moving to a quieter location or turning down extraneous volumes on TV and radio.
  • If it appears that you are not understood, rephrase the message – repeating verbatim may not enhance understanding if it was missed the first time.
  • Clue the listener in when you change subjects.
  • Keep your hands and other objects including food, gum cigarettes etc. away from your face when speaking.
  • Use facial expressions and gestures.
  • Be patient, positive and relaxed. 
  • Please refrain from being dismissive by saying such things as “oh, never mind”.  Nothing is more hurtful or isolating to the listener with hearing loss as when others cut off communication because the listener is struggling to follow along.